CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS – CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS
May 10, 2012 – 7:22 p.m.
Reid Raises Prospect of Filibuster Curb
By Niels Lesniewski, CQ Staff
Altering Senate rules to limit filibusters would be difficult, but Reid, D-Nev., told colleagues that “If there were anything that ever needed changing in this body, it’s the filibuster rule, because it’s been abused, abused.”
Reid’s comments came as he filed a motion to limit debate on taking up a House-passed reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (
First-term Democratic Sens.
“These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t. They were right. The rest of us were wrong — or most of us, anyway — what a shame,” Reid said.
Reid did not outline specific proposals Thursday, but the timing of his comments made clear he would favor eliminating filibusters of motions to start debating bills.
But some other Democrats are more cautious about proposals to curb filibusters. Speaking on the floor Wednesday about the GOP primary defeat of Indiana Republican Sen.
“Every great moment in this great institution, when people look back at the history with pride and point to the Missouri Compromise or point to Henry Clay or Daniel Webster or all these great senators — or Ted Kennedy more recently and others on the other side of the aisle — when they do that, they are talking about people who operated by the same rules but found the common ground because they had the intelligence and willpower to put the country and its interests ahead of everything else,” Kerry declared.
Changing Senate rules requires a two-thirds majority vote — a very high hurdle. But Reid has shown a willingness to use procedural steps to curb what he views as dilatory tactics. Last August, Reid used a variation of the so-called nuclear option to change a procedural rule. The change barred senators from using motions to suspend the rules to get around a prohibition against senators offering non-germane amendments after cloture is invoked.
The proposal by Merkley and Udall ran into procedural hurdles that supporters had not anticipated, and Reid ultimately negotiated a narrower package of changes. Reid and Minority Leader